GIRLS BASKETBALL: M.L. King advances to third straight city title appearance, with a 61-38 win over Renaissance
DETROIT – Martin Luther King girls basketball head coach William Winfield is a living legend. In his tenure at the east side school, he has won five state titles and 21 city championships.
He have to opportunity to capture his 22nd city title next Friday at Calihan Hall, in a rematch with Cass Tech. But first his Lady Crusaders had to get past Renaissance, which they did in convincing fashion, 61-38.
“Normally we play better than what we played tonight,” Winfield said. “We missed a lot of lay-ups and Mart’e (Grays) game was off, she usually plays better. But we’re just glad we won.”
Grays wasn’t her usual self, but still finished with a team-high 15 points. Her teammates stepped up big time, with Lashai Geeter, Malaysia McHenry and Janae Williams all combining for 37 points and 26 rebounds.
“Those three are going to be the ones who are going to have to do it for us,” Winfield said. “On the defensive end they played well and on the offensive end, not so well. Those are things we can correct and we will work on that the next few days.”
Renaissance (11-5) came out with a sense of urgency in the first quarter and actually led 9-4 with 3:35 left in the first. King closed the quarter out on a 9-2 run to take a 13-11 lead and never looked back.
“We started off the game fast and really confident,” Renaissance coach Kiwan Ward said. “They made a run and we weren’t able to recover from it.”
After Winfield called a timeout after his team got behind, King turned it up in the second and a bucket by Geeter (11 points, 11 rebounds) made it 26-15 with 3:02 left in the half. King led by 16 late in the third, then Renaissance went on a run themselves.
Sparked by two baskets from Siyeh Frazier, who led the Lady Phoenix with 15 points, King’s lead got cut down to thirteen, at 43-30, with 1:20 left in the third. But King would close out the final 80 seconds on a 4-0 run, to push their lead back up to 17, at 47-30.
“I believe we came out to relaxed because we had beat them the first time,” junior Malaysia McHenry said. “We thought it was going to be easy this game.
Coach just told us to go out there, play hard, play smart and grab them rebounds.”
McHenry chipped it 12 points and seven rebounds on her birthday, while Janae Williams, who played well the entire game, scored 14 points.
King remains the No.1 team in the state, with a 18-1 record and will face Cass Tech again for the city title. King won 58-36 back on January 26 and know that it won’t be that easy the second time around.
“I think we will approach this game more focused and aware, defensively and offensively,” McHenry said. “It means a lot for us to win another city title and it will feel good to put a smile on my coach’s face for the third time in a row.”